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American Horror Story: Season 4 (Freak Show)

Review by CJ

Director:
Ryan Murphy, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Michael Uppendahl, Howard Deutch, Anthony Hemingway, Bradley Buecker, Loni Peristere, Michael Goi

Writer:
Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Tim Minear, James Wong, Jennifer Salt, Jessica Sharzer, John J. Gray, Crystal Liu, Todd Kubrak

Starring:
Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Michael Chiklis, Emma Roberts, Denis O’Hare, John Carroll Lynch, Grace Gummer, Naomi Grossman, Jyoti Amge, Erika Ervin, Mat Fraser, Christopher Neiman, Rose Siggins, Ben Woolf, Finn Wittrock, Drew Rin Varick, Chrissy Metz

Other notable appearances:
Frances Conroy, Patti LaBelle, Wes Bentley, Celia Weston, Matt Bomer, Gabourey Sidibe, Heather Langenkamp, Danny Huston, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Lily Rabe, Mare Winningham, Jamie Brewer, Neil Patrick Harris, Angela Sarafyan, John Cromwell, David Burtka

Running time:
44-61 minutes per episode

Number of episodes:
13

 

A troupe of freak show performers in 1952 Florida must band together to fight against persecution, murderers, ghosts and conmen — both from outside and within.

AHS: Freak Show is a lot of fun. While it didn’t quite surpass its predecessor AHS: Coven in terms of my favourite season thus far, it is on par with AHS: Murder House and AHS: Asylum both in terms of weirdness and entertainment level.

I was saddened to read that this is the last season of American Horror Story to feature Jessica Lange. Throughout the American Horror Story series, Lange has been a consistently outstanding performer who brings life to some truly wicked characters. Lange’s portrayal of Elsa Mars in AHS: Freak Show is no exception.

Sarah Paulson’s work as the conjoined twins Dot and Bette is excellent in its nuances. Having the meeker Bette be the twin forced to bow their neck and make way for the stoic Dot is a great way to show, without telling, the dynamics of their relationship.

AHS: Freak Show has a few gory moments but, as with most seasons of American Horror Story, a lot of the horror comes from how closely the events from the show translate into real life.

I love, love, loved the renditions of more modern songs put into a 1950s setting. Nirvana’s ‘Come As You Are’ and David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ and ‘Life on Mars’ were out of place but still fit with the overall theme of the show.

My favourite episodes in AHS: Freak Show were the ones featuring urban legend Edward Mordrake as portrayed by Wes Bentley. Not only do they introduce a supernatural aspect, but they allow the backstories of several characters to be shown without feeling forced.

With a great cast, a few wonderful musical numbers, and enough horror to stay true to its name while still being fit for television, AHS: Freak Show is a great addition to the American Horror Story series. Though coulrophobes should probably steer clear.

Rating:

“People don’t come to see freaks in the heat of the day, they come in the evening, when the darkness moves in and speaks of mystery, the unknown. When logic loosens its vice grip and the imagination comes out to play. Night allows the stars to shine and we come alive.”

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